Singapore – Erik de Haas, Regional Manager
Erik de Haas of Boskalis speaks about the company’s operations in Southeast Asia- the long developed capabilities the company is leveraging on to service clients, and the current status of fleet assets, including the enterprise’s new lifting barge, the latest in its Hercules series. The company, he comments, is eager to minimise risk and proceed with secure operations. He goes on to explain why Boskalis is an exciting prospect for both clients and employees.
Which are your core areas of activity here in Southeast Asia?
Our company has been in existence for over a hundred years, being founded in 1910. The company has grown quite steadily, through organic and autonomous growth and through a number of acquisitions which widened our service offering, yet dredging remains the larger part of our operation.
Boskalis has successfully retained its market share in this acitivty, but the company’s current growth is principally driven by affiliated projects and services. Revenue coming from activities aside from pure dredging activities has been growing since 2001 and now the various novel practices we engage with are the source of more than 50% of our total revenue.
The business does plan to capitalise on this offshore growth, and acquired SMIT in 2010, Dockwise in 2013 and Fairrmount Marine earlier this year. These acquisitions have contributed to the development of more sophisticated synergies within the company, spurring us on even more.
Can you tell us about some of your core projects?
One of the interesting efforts of our business currently is an offshore platform installation project in the Philippines which is a great example of the collective abilities of our group. This ranges from seabed preparation and levelling of the sea floor, with gravel pads, towing the platform to the site, locally positioning the asset, and following that the jack-up, filling the legs with iron ore in order to weigh the unit down.
Following this, the current structure and new structure need to be connected, so firstly a temporary and then subsequently permanent bridge will be installed. With this complex project, we are therefore able to demonstrate the broad scope of our activities.
What is the current status of Boskalis’ fleet?
Boskalis has approximately 1000 vessels. Within our fleet, we have many unique and customised vessels. As the nature of the tasks we perform are very context specific, every project is unique, and often requires customised vessels. Usually there are one or two vessels ideal for any given project which can limit competition. We try to ensure we are able to be responsive to our customer’s needs quickly and effectively by positioning our vessels in strategic locations. We leverage on both regional and global capacities in that sense.
The Asian Hercules III is scheduled for delivery later this year- what are the expectations for this vessel in particular?
The size of the unit is massive. In Singapore it is without equal, a sheerlegs capable of 5000 tons of lift. This capacity is considerable, and will add to the existing capabilities of our heavy lift fleet, like the Asian Hercules II, which has has 3200 tons capacity. These vessels are well equipped to deliver projects here in Asia.
In a recent interview, you stated that ‘there are endless possibilities in Boskalis, but the only person responsible for where one ends up, is that individual themselves’- can you tell us about your company’s approach to skill development and recruitment?
I think the company is special in terms of the loyalty of its staff, and conversely, the loyalty of the company to its staff. Many staff work their whole careers here at Boskalis, with this being their first and only job. A good way to start within the company is to join one of our trainee programs, which we have for varying personnel, including our surveyers, financial analysts and operational and project-based staff. The trainee programs last two years. These programs also let staff find, internally, the role they are best suited for.There are enough opportunities within Boskalis for staff to find a calling, as well as a career.
What is Boskalis’ strategy for risk minimisation?
We provide complex, highly demanding services. Whilst our core offering, that of dredging, sounds simple, it is technical, complex and requires skill and experience and if not performed well, the risks associated with it can be considerable. Proper risk management is key and I’m happy to share that our behavioural based safety program NINA, which stands for No Injuries No Accidents has put our company at an unparalleled level with respect to safety. This safety culture is embranced not only within our company, but also by our clients, subcontractors and suppliers. Boskalis has been delivering successful projects in a safe and profitable way for over 100 years, you don’t get that far if you don’t pay proper attention to risks.
Our clients acknowledge the technical and specialist nature of our services. Whilst my engineering background gives me a useful route to understanding the technical essentials for our client, I would never deny the hard work of the whole Boskalis team- it is together that we are able to deliver for the client. The experience and capabilities of Boskalis staff mean that every situation is always fully appraised before any operation moves forward.
What is your ambition for the company in five years’ time?
I see a lot of potential in the market for projects in which we can really make a difference, being able to supply solution by ourselves or via strong partnerships. One of the focus area is certainly South East Asia and the wider Asian context as well. Boskalis seeks steady growth in here, and Singapore will continue to be a useful hub for this movement.
In addition, Boskalis distinguishes itself by expanding and diversifying in the offshore/maritime sector. Which is clearly one of the key drivers for the growth and strength of the company. I would dare to say that within this field there is no company that can match the broad range of services that we can provide. With this on the horizon, the possibilities are endless.